There is so much more to San Diego than a good tan and 70 miles of coastline. We are a city overflowing with creators, dreamers, and breathtaking natural beauty. In San Diego, art is found everywhere — in our sunsets, decorating surfboards, sandcastles, street graffiti, murals on school walls, local galleries, and on and on. I have stumbled upon art in every corner of San Diego — modern mixed with urban in San Diego’s East Village, eccentric in Little Italy, creators in East County, community-fueled in Barrio Logan, and avant-garde in Escondido. A few of many that have moved me:
8186 Center Street, Suite D, La Mesa
Get Centered Clay Studio
Tucked away among warehouses in an industrial area of La Mesa, you’ll stumble upon Get Centered Clay studio. This hidden East County gem is owned and operated by working artists. The facility offers an onsite gallery and gift shop, hands-on classes, workshops, and studio membership for artists and pottery enthusiasts. The site houses six potter’s wheels. Members have access to kilns and shelf space where they can store their supplies and works-in-progress. Classes offered range from hand-building, intermediate, and advanced potter’s wheel skill to figurative sculpture. They even offer children’s classes.
325 15th Street, East Village
Space 4 Art
SPACE 4 ART offers the community a slew of low-cost-to-free events, ranging from visual arts, concerts, sculpture, dance, spoken word and puppetry. The facility is all about community, so much so that it is volunteer-built and -designed by the community. Space 4 Art houses 40 affordable studios for working artists and craftsmen that interact with visitors. Their focus is to expand the art culture in the East Village. So far, they are succeeding.
317 E. Grand Avenue, Escondido
You wouldn’t expect to find a hip and cutting-edge gallery in Escondido, but Distinction Gallery is just that. The 7000-square-foot, two-story gallery has a little bit of something for everyone. Distinction’s main focus is on oil and acrylic paintings. From time to time they display drawings and mixed-media pieces. On the second Saturday of every month, from 6 to 10 p.m., Distinction hosts an open house featuring Stone beer, wine, live music from San Diego and Los Angeles area musicians, and, of course, artwork. The main gallery is on the first floor, while the second floor is home to 14 studios available to rent.
2479 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
What began as a one-of-a-kind multimedia bookstore has morphed into what is now Subtext Gallery in Little Italy. Perhaps my favorite gallery in town, Subtext displays a unique collection of art ranging from contemporary, illustrative, graphic design, pop surrealist, low-brow, and street-art pieces. Apart from art, Subtext has remained close to its roots. The gallery still sells a variety of specialty design, photography, and architecture books along with unique toys for kids or the kid at heart. The gallery is two stories. The second level opens up to a lovely and spacious outdoor patio with a view of downtown San Diego.
Barrio Art Crawl
The Barrio Art Crawl is a monthly self-guided tour through the bustling art scene of Barrio Logan. The crawl is an all-ages, community-driven one-day event that takes place on the second Saturday of every month. It runs along parts of Logan Avenue, Main Street, Julian Avenue, and National Avenue. Local businesses, studios, and galleries open their doors to host visitors. Participating locations include the famed Chicano Park, the Roots Factory, Glaushaus, La Esquina, and Low Gallery to name a few.
Silo at the Maker’s Quarter
Between G and F streets, in an otherwise neglected portion of East Village, sits SILO at the Maker’s Quarter. SILO is a unique open-air mural gallery and community venue. They host an eclectic array of community events, ranging from theater productions, food-truck Fridays, concerts, to craft-beer festivals. Silo first opened its doors in September of 2013. Since that time, SILO has continued to be a vibrant and funky addition to the East Village in which to view urban art and design.